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Math anxiety in second and third graders and its relation to mathematics achievement.

Wu SS, Barth M, Amin H, Malcarne V, Menon V - Front Psychol (2012)

Bottom Line: Although the detrimental effects of math anxiety in adults are well understood, few studies have examined how it affects younger children who are beginning to learn math in a formal academic setting.Additional analyses showed that SEMA scores were strongly correlated with Mathematical Reasoning scores, which involves more complex verbal problem solving.SEMA scores were weakly correlated with Numerical Operations which assesses basic computation skills, suggesting that math anxiety has a pronounced effect on more demanding calculations.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Colorado at Boulder Boulder, CO, USA.

ABSTRACT
Although the detrimental effects of math anxiety in adults are well understood, few studies have examined how it affects younger children who are beginning to learn math in a formal academic setting. Here, we examine the relationship between math anxiety and math achievement in second and third graders. In response to the need for a grade-appropriate measure of assessing math anxiety in this group we first describe the development of Scale for Early Mathematics Anxiety (SEMA), a new measure for assessing math anxiety in second and third graders that is based on the Math Anxiety Rating Scale. We demonstrate the construct validity and reliability of the SEMA and use it to characterize the effect of math anxiety on standardized measures of math abilities, as assessed using the Mathematical Reasoning and Numerical Operations subtests of the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT-II). Math achievement, as measured by the WIAT-II Math Composite score, was significantly and negatively correlated with SEMA but not with trait anxiety scores. Additional analyses showed that SEMA scores were strongly correlated with Mathematical Reasoning scores, which involves more complex verbal problem solving. SEMA scores were weakly correlated with Numerical Operations which assesses basic computation skills, suggesting that math anxiety has a pronounced effect on more demanding calculations. We also found that math anxiety has an equally detrimental impact on math achievement regardless of whether children have an anxiety related to numbers or to the situational and social experience of doing math. Critically, these effects were unrelated to trait anxiety, providing the first evidence that the specific effects of math anxiety can be detected in the earliest stages of formal math learning in school. Our findings provide new insights into the developmental origins of math anxiety, and further underscore the need to remediate math anxiety and its deleterious effects on math achievement in young children.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Math anxiety was significantly and negatively correlated with WIAT-II Mathematical Reasoning subtest (R2 = 0.57), but not the Numerical Operations subtest (R2 = 0.23). The figure above shows corrected means after controlling for FSIQ and trait anxiety.
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Figure 2: Math anxiety was significantly and negatively correlated with WIAT-II Mathematical Reasoning subtest (R2 = 0.57), but not the Numerical Operations subtest (R2 = 0.23). The figure above shows corrected means after controlling for FSIQ and trait anxiety.

Mentions: We further examined the relationship between math anxiety and the two WIAT-II Math subtests (Figure 2). When we controlled for trait anxiety and FSIQ using hierarchical regression analysis, we found the same results – math anxiety was significantly and negatively correlated with Mathematical Reasoning [β = −0.34, t(127) = −3.66, p < 0.001, R2 = 0.57] but not with Numerical Operations [β = −0.18, t(127) = −1.37, p = 0.17, R2 = 0.23]. Comparison of slopes indicated that this interaction was not significant (z = −1.10, p = 0.13). In order to account for the fact that fewer of the children tended rated themselves as “Very Very Nervous,” we conducted additional analyses by collapsing the “Very Nervous” and “Very Very Nervous” rating categories and recalculated the SEMA scores. This analyses indicated that SEMA was significantly correlated with both Mathematical Reasoning (ρ = −0.48, p < 0.001) and Numerical Operations ρ = −0.26, p < 0.01), even after controlling for FSIQ and trait anxiety. A difference of slopes test, however suggested that math anxiety has a significantly stronger effect on Mathematical Reasoning (z = −3.65, p < 0.0001).


Math anxiety in second and third graders and its relation to mathematics achievement.

Wu SS, Barth M, Amin H, Malcarne V, Menon V - Front Psychol (2012)

Math anxiety was significantly and negatively correlated with WIAT-II Mathematical Reasoning subtest (R2 = 0.57), but not the Numerical Operations subtest (R2 = 0.23). The figure above shows corrected means after controlling for FSIQ and trait anxiety.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3369194&req=5

Figure 2: Math anxiety was significantly and negatively correlated with WIAT-II Mathematical Reasoning subtest (R2 = 0.57), but not the Numerical Operations subtest (R2 = 0.23). The figure above shows corrected means after controlling for FSIQ and trait anxiety.
Mentions: We further examined the relationship between math anxiety and the two WIAT-II Math subtests (Figure 2). When we controlled for trait anxiety and FSIQ using hierarchical regression analysis, we found the same results – math anxiety was significantly and negatively correlated with Mathematical Reasoning [β = −0.34, t(127) = −3.66, p < 0.001, R2 = 0.57] but not with Numerical Operations [β = −0.18, t(127) = −1.37, p = 0.17, R2 = 0.23]. Comparison of slopes indicated that this interaction was not significant (z = −1.10, p = 0.13). In order to account for the fact that fewer of the children tended rated themselves as “Very Very Nervous,” we conducted additional analyses by collapsing the “Very Nervous” and “Very Very Nervous” rating categories and recalculated the SEMA scores. This analyses indicated that SEMA was significantly correlated with both Mathematical Reasoning (ρ = −0.48, p < 0.001) and Numerical Operations ρ = −0.26, p < 0.01), even after controlling for FSIQ and trait anxiety. A difference of slopes test, however suggested that math anxiety has a significantly stronger effect on Mathematical Reasoning (z = −3.65, p < 0.0001).

Bottom Line: Although the detrimental effects of math anxiety in adults are well understood, few studies have examined how it affects younger children who are beginning to learn math in a formal academic setting.Additional analyses showed that SEMA scores were strongly correlated with Mathematical Reasoning scores, which involves more complex verbal problem solving.SEMA scores were weakly correlated with Numerical Operations which assesses basic computation skills, suggesting that math anxiety has a pronounced effect on more demanding calculations.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Colorado at Boulder Boulder, CO, USA.

ABSTRACT
Although the detrimental effects of math anxiety in adults are well understood, few studies have examined how it affects younger children who are beginning to learn math in a formal academic setting. Here, we examine the relationship between math anxiety and math achievement in second and third graders. In response to the need for a grade-appropriate measure of assessing math anxiety in this group we first describe the development of Scale for Early Mathematics Anxiety (SEMA), a new measure for assessing math anxiety in second and third graders that is based on the Math Anxiety Rating Scale. We demonstrate the construct validity and reliability of the SEMA and use it to characterize the effect of math anxiety on standardized measures of math abilities, as assessed using the Mathematical Reasoning and Numerical Operations subtests of the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT-II). Math achievement, as measured by the WIAT-II Math Composite score, was significantly and negatively correlated with SEMA but not with trait anxiety scores. Additional analyses showed that SEMA scores were strongly correlated with Mathematical Reasoning scores, which involves more complex verbal problem solving. SEMA scores were weakly correlated with Numerical Operations which assesses basic computation skills, suggesting that math anxiety has a pronounced effect on more demanding calculations. We also found that math anxiety has an equally detrimental impact on math achievement regardless of whether children have an anxiety related to numbers or to the situational and social experience of doing math. Critically, these effects were unrelated to trait anxiety, providing the first evidence that the specific effects of math anxiety can be detected in the earliest stages of formal math learning in school. Our findings provide new insights into the developmental origins of math anxiety, and further underscore the need to remediate math anxiety and its deleterious effects on math achievement in young children.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus